Diarmuid Mullins enjoying Limerick coaching adventure
By Cian O’Connell
For Limerick minor hurling manager, Diarmuid Mullins, the learning continues. Deputy Principal at Crescent College, Mullins knows all about the value of development and improvement.
Saturday’s Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Championship against Kilkenny currently dominates the agenda, but Mullins has forged quite an interesting sporting journey.
As a teenager Mulligan enjoyed football success with Laois, claiming two All Ireland minor medals. Subsequently Mullins attended Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and following that his coaching career commenced.
“I played with Portlaoise up until 2005, then I transferred to play hurling and football with Mungret, I actually trained Mungret to win an Intermediate Football Championship in 2004,” Mullins recalls.
“That was the first time I got involved with a team. I was fortunate enough to get involved after that with Murroe-Boher in Limerick along with Joe Quaid. We got to a county semi-final in Limerick in 2006. Then I was involved with Tony Considine with Burgess and also Kilmallock. We were lucky with Kilmallock to win two county championships in 2010 and 2012.
“I got an opportunity to coach the Limerick senior footballers for two years, I came back to Mungret, we won the Intermediate hurling in 2016. I've been around the block a little bit, but I've really enjoyed all the different teams I've been involved with.”
The experienced accumulated along the adventure has assisted Mullins, who stresses the importance of his own backroom team featuring former Nenagh Eire Og star Richie Flannery, John Meskell, and Tommy Quaid.
“I think working with all those people you learn quite a bit,” Mullins admits. “You learn quite a bit when you are a player under the various managers or coaches, whether it was schools level or county level or club level.
“You probably take some of the positives that you found from them. Obviously when you are involved as a coach with a number of people like Joe and Tony, Tom Ryan too, I was involved with him at Murroe-Boher initially.
“They are all people that have been successful at inter-county level. You learn as you go along, but really it is a collective management group where myself, Richie, John, and Tommy, we spend a lot of time putting ideas together.
“It is really a team effort. We have managed to get some results, it is really down to the players. They have been top class throughout the year. If you don't have the raw material it is very hard to be able to succeed.”
During the past decade the work being carried out in Limerick’s Academy system is well documented with favourable evidence being supplied at post primary, third level, and now on the senior inter-county arena.
“All of our guys along with all of the other guys in the Academy have senior players to look up to, they have achieved success coming through the system prior to this, that is always a positive,” Mullins acknowledges.
“This is my first year working with the group. However, there was some continuity in that John Meskell, one of our selectors was a selector with the minor team last year. Tommy Quaid another one of our selectors was involved with the Under 16s which is the present minor team.
“So there was some managerial experience dealing with these players before which of course has been invaluable for Richie Flannery and myself, who have got involved. They had a good insight into the players which helped us when we got started last October.”
Mullins is enjoying being involved with Limerick and is immersed in all matters green and white now. “I went to Mary I straight after I left Ballyfin College,” Mullins explains.
“I spent four years in Limerick, I really liked Limerick, I spent one of those years on placement in Crescent. Then I finished off my teaching degree in NUIG in Galway, I was lucky enough to get appointed to a position in Crescent when I returned to Limerick in 2002.
“I have been here ever since. I spent a certain amount of those years training with Portlaoise and then slowly, but surely I got more involved with teams in Limerick. Obviously I have settled now, my future is in Limerick with a young family and I'm enjoying being involved with the Limerick minors also.”
Part of the teaching staff in Crescent for 17 years, the importance of sport in the school shouldn’t be underestimated with hurling beginning to return to prominence. “Interestingly if you go back to 1994 and 1996 when Limerick were in senior finals, you had a number of ex Crescent students on the team,” Mullins states.
“Gary Kirby, Eoin O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, Damien Quigley. In a roundabout way we nearly had the top representation in the 90s. Even this current minor squad we have five players currently studying in the school.
“Obviously rugby and then for the girls, hockey, are the two main sports in the school. We have a senior hurling team, last year they were successful winning the Munster D competition which was a great success for the school and for the lads interested in hurling.
“You've always had lads interested in hurling, we just don't have the numbers to compete at a higher level. I'd be hopeful over the next couple of years that with the five lads and others in the school that we would be competitive at Munster level and be competitive in the future.
“Really Crescent isn't a rugby school necessarily, it is a sporting school that tries to cater for all of the students' needs, it is good.”
Mullins has occupied a central role in maintaining that ethos and culture in Crescent. The Portlaoise native is also doing his bit to keep Limerick relevant too.